"A IS FOR AARDVARK"
William Asher has gone on record saying this is THE definitive "Bewitched" episode. Take his word for it ...
Ironically, this ode to all that "Bewitched" stands for was not even directed by Asher but by movie star-turned-director, Ida Lupino. Managing to bring her years of experience starring in tear-jerkers, Miss Lupino beautifully weaves an incredibly romantic tale with Sam's crying scene rivaling anything out of "Doctor Zhivago," "The Way We Were" or "Terms of Endearment." Masterfully encapsulating all the principals, morals and emotions of two rather new, complex characters (Darrin and Sam) it's almost mind-boggling that this was accomplished not only so early in the run but by a director and writer (Earl Barrett) who had never even worked on the show previously.
"Bewitched" is always at its best when it takes simple, fun storylines and digs deep beneath the surface to explore powerful human emotions -- made all the more unique (and touching) when applied to an other-worldly character such as Samantha. Elizabeth Montgomery is at her finest here. From the gradual change we see in Samantha naively giving Darrin power to her eventual heart-sickening awareness that she's in danger of losing everything she loves, Elizabeth has never been better. Aside from looking absolutely gorgeous (even in that scarf!), Montgomery is perfect in her every move, every expression ... we literally see Sam's happy life start crumbling around her not by any dialogue spoken but by the increasingly haunted expression in her EYES! A tour de force performance...
It's rare when a sitcom can make you cry. The ones that do often are already known as comedy-dramas or may just try very hard with a "Very Special Episode"/"Disease of the Week" plot. Some succeed while others feel like cheap manipulation on the heartstrings. The tears and emotions here are genuine and well-earned, stemming not from a contrived nature but from a very real and honest foundation ...simple human nature.
FAVE QUOTE: After Samantha tearfully begs Darrin to understand that his simple gifts and love are her most valued possessions, he protectively reassures, "Nobody's gonna take them away from you."
OF INTEREST: Remade later with Dick Sargent as "Darrin the Warlock, Pt. 1 & 2" (Episode #180-181)
Script writer Earl Barrett also wrote the incredibly beautiful
"sister-script" to this, "Charlie Harper, Winner" (Episode #99)
©Review Copyright 1998 by SCOTT VIETS
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